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Energy Bill on House Floor This Week

House Democratic leaders will bring their energy package to the floor as soon as Thursday and will allow Republicans to offer an an alternative, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Tuesday.

Democrats are to unveil their comprehensive energy plan this afternoon. Hoyer said he hoped to have the bill on the floor by Thursday or Friday, and that it would be taken up under a rule. This means GOP Members could bring up their energy bill under a procedural motion and get a vote on their proposal to expand offshore drilling even more.

The Democratic bill will contain “some of the elements” of a Senate energy proposal that would expand areas open to offshore drilling, Hoyer said. It will also include items that have already passed the House, such as those related to market speculation and land leased by oil companies.

Republican leaders dismissed the Democratic package as a partisan ploy.

Preliminary descriptions of the bill have indicated that it “would wall off 80 percent of the Outer Continental Shelf. Permanently,” Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said. “I don’t think that’s what anybody wants.”

GOP leaders hinted that they would be willing to shut down the government if Democrats attempt to extend a soon-to-expire drilling ban under a continuing resolution.

If Democrats pursue the extension, “We will have a whale of a fight over it,” Boehner said.

Asked if he has discussed with President Bush a possible veto of any continuing resolution that doesn’t lift the moratorium, which expires on Sept. 30, Boehner said, “We’ve talked about it.”

Hoyer dismissed the idea that Democratic leaders are considering that approach.

“I don’t know that anybody has suggested that we’re going to put the moratorium in the CR,” he said. “The practical matter is that we have to pass a CR … in communication with the president.”

Hoyer added, “We have no intention of shutting down the government. That is bad policy.”